The Devil's Teeth

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9780805075816: The Devil's Teeth

Susan Casey was in her living room when she first saw the great white sharks of the Farallon Islands, their dark fins swirling around a small motorboat in a documentary. These sharks were the alphas among alphas, some longer than twenty feet, and there were too many to count; even more incredible, this congregation was taking place just twenty-seven miles off the coast of San Francisco. In a matter of months, Casey was being hoisted out of the early-winter swells on a crane, up a cliff face to the barren surface of Southeast Farallon Island - dubbed by sailors in the 1850s the "devil's teeth." There she joined Scot Anderson and Peter Pyle, the two biologists who bunk down during shark season each fall in the Island's ori:e habitable building, a haunted, 135-year-old house spackled with lichen and gull guano. Two days later, she got her first glimpse of the famous, terrifying jaws up close, and she was instantly hooked; her fascination soon yielded to obsession-and an invitation to return for a full season. But as Casey readied herself for the eight-week stint, she had no way of preparing for what she would find among the dangerous, forgotten islands that have banished every campaign for civilization in the past two hundred years. "The Devil's Teeth" is a vivid dispatch from an otherworldly out-post, a story of crossing the boundary between society and an untamed place where humans are neither wanted nor needed. In a world where very little is known for certain, we knew that below us a great white shark was orbiting, waiting for the seal to bleed some more, and that this shark would soon be returning for breakfast. It might be Betty or Mama or the Gadillac, one of the huge females that patrolled the east side of the island. These big girls, all of them over 18 feet long, were known as the sisterhood. Or it might be a "smaller" male (say, 14 or 15 feet) like Two Spot or T-Nose or the sneaky Gal Ripfin. These sharks were called the rat pack. It might be any number of great whites. At this time of the year there were scores of them cruising this 120-acre patch of sea, swimming close to the shoreline of Southeast Farallon Island as hapless seals washed out of finger gulleys at high tide and into the danger zone. In any given year more than a thousand people will be maimed by toilet bowl cleaning products or killed by cattle. Less than a dozen will be attacked by a great white shark. In this neighbourhood, however, odds do not count. At the Farallon Islands in autumn, your chance of meeting a great white face-to-face is better than even money, should you be crazy enough or unlucky enough to end up in the water.

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Review:

"I read Susan Casey's book in a feeding frenzy, satisfying my curiosity while fueling my fascination with sharks. A thoroughly researched and well-written piece of literature that raises hairs as well as tickling funny bones, THE DEVIL'S TEETH artfully reveals what lurks in the shadows of the mysterious great white and the people obsessed with them. The true triumph of the book, though, is in Casey's transcendence of mere journalism--she's clearly embraced by the world of which she writes." --Linda Greenlaw, Author of THE HUNGRY OCEAN and ALL FISHERMEN ARE LIARS"A marvelous book--part adventure, part meditation, part natural history -- that takes the reader on a wild ride into a strange and seductive world. Casey is the perfect diving companion; her account of life among San Francisco's shark population is engaging, smart, and irresistible." --Susan Orlean, author of "My Kind of Place" and "The Orchid Thief" "In delivering us to the Farallon Islands, and then into the souls of the magnificent Great White Sharks that populate its waters, Susan Casey has really delivered us into the DNA of our own beings. The Devil's Teeth is more than a shark story; it is an account of our instincts, our appetites, even our futures, all beautifully told by a writer compelled to know."--Robert Kurson, author of "Shadow Divers" "'There's another world, and it's in this one, '" declares Susan Casey, reveling in the surreality of her days and nights spent among the world's coolest, cold-eyed customers, great white sharks. Who knew these beasts lived so close to San Francisco, within the pizza delivery zone of that fair city? Casey is a poet, a bare-knuckled spirit, unabashed and funny, and hers is an entrancing ride to a beautiful, forbidding place, a new world, close by. Hang on." --Doug Stanton, author of "In Harm's Way" "Susan Casey could write about guppies, and I'd want to read her book. I devoured this book like a shark." --Mary Roach, author of "Stiff"

About the Author:

Susan Casey is the development editor of Time Inc. She was previously the editor in chief of "Sports Illustrated Women" and an editor at large for Time Inc.'s 180 magazine titles. She also served as the creative director of "Outside" magazine where, with editor Mark Bryant, she led the magazine to three consecutive, history-making National Magazine Awards for General Excellence. At "Outside" she was part of the editorial team that developed the stories behind "Into Thin Air" and "The Perfect Storm." Her writing has appeared in "Esquire, Time, Fortune," and "Sports Illustrated." She lives in New York City.

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